The Financial Realities of Military Permanent Change of Station
One of the major components of military life is the Permanent Change of Station (PCS), which refers to the relocation of military personnel and their families to a new duty station. While PCS can be an exciting opportunity for growth and new experiences, it also comes with several financial realities that military personnel must navigate.
Firstly, the military provides allowances to help cover the costs of moving during a PCS. These allowances include the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), which helps military personnel pay for housing at their new duty station, and the Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), which covers their food expenses. Additionally, the military provides a Dislocation Allowance (DLA), which assists with the costs associated with moving, such as packing and transportation.
However, it is important to note that these allowances may not fully cover all the expenses incurred during a PCS. Depending on the location and housing situation at the new duty station, the BAH may not cover the full cost of rent or mortgage payments. Similarly, the BAS allowance might not cover the entire food budget, especially if the cost of living at the new duty station is higher than the previous one.
Furthermore, there are a range of indirect costs associated with a PCS that military personnel may not anticipate. These include expenses like security deposits for rental properties, utility connection fees, and costs associated with transporting pets. Additionally, military families may need to consider other expenses like job hunting, child care, or even temporary lodging if there is a time gap between their move-out and move-in dates.
Given these financial realities, military personnel must plan and budget accordingly during a PCS. One crucial step is to thoroughly research the cost of living at the new duty station and compare it to their current expenses. This allows for a better understanding of potential increases or decreases in their overall budget.
Moreover, it is essential to assess housing options carefully. Depending on the availability and affordability of on-base housing, military personnel may need to explore off-base alternatives. In some cases, military families may decide to rent out their previous property instead of purchasing a new one. It is important to consider the financial implications of becoming a landlord and evaluate whether the rental income will be sufficient to cover the costs of a new residence.
Another aspect that requires attention is creating an emergency fund. With the uncertainties associated with a PCS, having a sufficient amount of savings can be crucial. Expenses like unexpected medical bills, vehicle repairs, or even temporary lodging during an extended transition period can create significant financial strain. Having an emergency fund in place can offer a safety net during these times of uncertainty.
Finally, seeking financial guidance from professionals can be immensely valuable during a PCS. The military has resources available, such as personal financial managers and counselors, who can provide advice on budgeting and financial planning. Additionally, there are online communities and forums where military personnel can share their experiences and gain insights from those who have already undergone a PCS.
In conclusion, military PCS comes with several financial realities that military personnel and their families must navigate. While the military provides allowances to cover some of the costs associated with moving, it is important to consider potential shortfalls and indirect expenses. By conducting thorough research, budgeting carefully, and seeking appropriate financial guidance, military personnel can prepare themselves for a successful transition to their new duty station.